Jellybeans (and a marathon)

Read director Hazel Gould's reflections on running the Brighton Marathon for Streetwise, and jellybeans:

I’ve done it! I’VE RUN A MARATHON. I’ve considered adopting a polite British “Oh it was nothing” attitude, but I just can’t do it. It was a really big deal. I trained for months, and I am really proud of myself. I ran it all by myself on my own two legs. Except I didn’t.

I set out confidently, but at mile 12 I began to feel pretty bleak. I had imagined that I would be cruising and strong at the halfway point, which physically I was, but emotionally I was crushed by the idea of running another 14 miles. In that moment, I was convinced that I would fail, that it would be impossible to finish and that I would have to drop out. I knew I wasn’t good enough. I imagined myself carrying the shame of failure with me, and although it felt awful, it also felt inevitable. Trying to pep myself up, I grabbed some water from the refreshment stand, and just at that moment (mile 13) I saw my great friend and her kids cheering for me; they’d made signs that said #GoingforGould. I waved and they waved back and we all shouted hello, and I felt the wind returning to my sails. Round the corner were my mum and dad, both great marathon runners in the 70s and 80s[1], who were clapping and cheering. My dad shouted “you look great” and I kept running. 

All along the way, my friends, family and the wonderful people of Brighton were willing the runners on. There was a constant supply of funny signs and shouts of “you’re amazing” from perfect strangers, and there were masses of children, lining the streets and holding out dishes of jellybeans. I ate loads of them, grateful for the sugar hit and for the care. 

Once I was at 15 miles, I knew that I could get to 20, and once I was at 20 I knew I could get to 23, then 24, and then finally 25 followed by the longest, slowest mile I’ve ever run in my life. Tired and grimly determined at just about 26 miles, I looked up and saw my family - my kids, husband, parents, parents-in-law, my sister and various nephews and nieces - all shouting my name. I saw the finish line, and with their cheering in my ears I put on a sprint to cross it. I had finished.

Being loved and supported is the greatest of all privileges. I live my life with cheerleaders on the roadside, and I hope, in turn, I am a cheerleader for my loved ones too. But would I have carried on at mile 12 if there hadn’t been a friend to shout my name? I doubt it. It took a village to run my marathon, the incredible generosity of the people who’ve sponsored me, people cheering at the roadside and all the wonderful messages of support, good wishes and congratulations. I am extremely grateful for it.

What is a life without that bedrock of support? How do you find your own, urban loving family to give you a helpful shove in the right direction? Streetwise Opera provide safe, positive, life affirming space for people who need it most. If you haven’t donated, but think you might, imagine that the fiver, or tenner that you can give is the one well-timed jellybean that makes it possible for someone to take the next step.

[1] As I, or my dad, will tell anyone who’ll listen – my dad’s Marathon PB is 2hrs50. You read that right, 2hrs50. My parents are no joke. 

You can still sponsor Hazel's amazing efforts. All funds raised will go towards Streetwise Opera's work with people who have experienced homelessness.